Nothing is worse for freedom and opportunity than when big business conspires with big labor. Behold the spectacle in Tennessee, where the Chambers of Commerce in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville have joined with the teachers unions to kill education vouchers.
In an April 27 letter repeating nearly every discredited voucher myth peddled by unions, the CEOs of the local chambers advise lawmakers to oppose the bill. The letter claims that private school funding “diverts resources away from public school improvement,” that “there is no empirical data demonstrating that vouchers improve student achievement,” and that private schools lack “accountability” and won’t be subject to “high academic standards.”
That last complaint is tragicomic given that Memphis schools typically rank among the nation’s five worst with fewer than half of black males graduating from high school. A 2010 progress report under the No Child Left Behind program found that 52% of Tennessee third graders flunked math and reading tests and 75% of eight graders failed math. How could private schools possibly be worse?
As for the “empirical data,” nearly a dozen studies have found high parental satisfaction with voucher schools or higher graduation rates. Perhaps the chamber CEOs should talk to the mostly minority parents in Milwaukee and Washington, D.C., where vouchers have been very popular. And no, the scholarship plan doesn’t rob public schools of scarce dollars. The vouchers are capped at 50% of the per-student costs of the public schools.
A study by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research discovered that over the past several years the Chattanooga Chamber has received $450,000 in state and local funds. The Nashville Chamber has received nearly $3 million in taxpayer subsidies.
Please take a moment to contact the following Chambers of Commerce presidents and ask them to stop condemning Tennessee’s children (especially those in Memphis) to failure with their efforts to hinder education voucher legislation:
The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, Tom Edd Wilson, President & CEO, (423) 763-4342, [email protected]
The Knoxville Chamber, Mike Edwards, President & CEO, (865) 246-2648, [email protected]
The Nashville Chamber, Ralph Schulz, President & CEO, 615-743-3012, email not available.
Details about the voucher bill are available Here.
TNSC recommends the leadership at these Chambers of Commerce educate themselves with the abundant empirical evidence showing vouchers improve education. A good place to start is:
the “Foundation for Educational Choice” is an updated version of a January 2009 report (published under the title A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on How Vouchers Affect Public Schools) titled A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on School Vouchers released 3/23/2011 by Greg Forster, Ph.D and available to read in full Here. This isn’t an opinion piece. “This report reviews all available empirical studies on participant effects that use the “gold standard” method of random assignment and all available empirical studies (using any scientific method) of how voucher programs affect academic achievement in public schools. The research reviewed in this report is complete and up to date, including all available empirical studies of which the author is aware as of February 2011.”